Last weekend I joined millions of others in watching Hamilton on Disney+. Though I have been fortunate to see it in person, seeing it on screen allowed me to zoom in and notice parts of the script I’d never noticed before. I think that this is a lot like our experiences with scripture. We can read the same script over and over and yet, in different readings, see and understand things in a brand new way. When I reread the 26th chapter of Matthew this week in preparation for AnchorPoint, I came across the story of the woman with the alabaster jar. I have read this story countless times. I’ve taught Bible studies on it, I’ve preached on it and thought the lesson in the story is centered on Jesus having an off script encounter with this woman.
And yet as I read it again, I realized that before the alabaster jar is ever broken and the oil poured on his head, the gospel writer tells us that all of this took place at the home of Simon the leper. Those two words “the leper“ take us completely off script. You see, in ancient Near-Eastern custom and Jewish law, lepers were outcasts of society. They were segregated and not allowed to mix with the rest of the community; they were not permitted to worship in the temple and they were thought to be afflicted with this disease because of their own sinfulness.
And yet, just days before Jesus would go to the cross he sits in the home and at the table of Simon the leper. Why? Because Jesus wants to remind us that when we find ourselves in off script places or situations, he will pull up a seat and dwell with us there. In other words, there are no scenes, there are no situations where Jesus will not meet us off script.
And perhaps now more than ever, as we continue to recover from this pandemic, we need to be reminded that God meets us off script. You may be struggling with unemployment, with grief, with loss or with fear, but it’s right there - that Jesus is and always will be present.
I share this with you today because I almost missed it. I thought I knew the “script” and almost missed what God really wanted me to learn today. I wonder if that’s ever happened to you? Have you ever come to God thinking you already know what God is up to? You already know the script, but then God opens your eyes to notice anew?
Here’s the challenge: we will miss God meeting us in the off script places of our lives if we’re moving too fast to notice them. We will miss the fresh word that God has for us if we’re rushing to where we think we should arrive. And so my prayer for us today, as we enter this weekend of worship, is that we would slow down. That we would put down the script we have written and open ourselves up to see God with fresh eyes. When we do, God will take what looks familiar and help us to see what’s fresh.